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4-5 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12-pt font, 1 inch margins)- Introduction, conclusion and a clear thesis.THIS IS NOT A RESEARCH PAPER. You are not to look up information on the internet and restate what has already been writtenFor more info see attached documents
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AMS 2270: Twentieth-Century American Culture
Spring 2019
Paper Assignment
Paper Deadlines:
• Final drafts are due on Canvas by 5pm Monday, April 29th –You must submit the complete final draft as
an electronic copy of your paper to the assignment link on Canvas. All papers will be checked for
plagiarism!
o The paper should be between 4-5 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12-pt font, 1 inch margins)
o Remember, a good paper has introductory and concluding paragraphs and a clear thesis. It is
well organized by paragraphs and has no grammatical errors. Do your best to think analytically
and to write clearly.
THIS IS NOT A RESEARCH PAPER. You are not to look up information on the internet and restate what has
already been written. The ideas and connections you make between your chosen source and the relevant
cultural movements/characteristic themes may NOT be researched, unless directed otherwise, and can only
come from your observations, the lectures, class discussions, images from the power points, and the video
clips seen in class. Use descriptive examples from the source as evidence for the associations you make.
Choose one of the following options:
Option One:
For option one, you will be analyzing how one form of media can be used to understand and compare two
different time periods which address similar ideologies. You will need to select one (1) media source to
analyze. Choose 1-2 examples of your chosen media to closely analyze (do not use more than 2 works in your
analysis). Then select two (2) time-periods from the 20th century, preferable two time periods with similar
ideologies. Examples:



Paintings from the Harlem Renaissance compared with paintings from the Civil Rights Era
Music from the 1950’s compared with music from the 1980’s
Photographs from the Progressive Era with photographs from the Great Depression
Option Two:
For option two, you will be analyzing how different media represent a particular time period. You will need to
select one (1) time-period from the 20th century you would like to focus on. Then select two (2) different
media sources to analyze. Choose 1-2 examples from each media to closely analyze. Do not use more than 2
each. For this option, you will need to find sources from media we did not discuss in context with the time
period. Examples:




A poem from the Harlem Renaissance and a piece of Jazz music also from the Harlem Renaissance
A photograph from the Great Depression and a work of literature from the Great Depression
A painting from the 1970’s and a film from the 1970’s
Advertisements from World War II and music from World War II
*You may turn in an optional rough draft of your paper (paper copy in class) for review by April 1st. I will not
review any paper e-mailed to me. After April 1st, you may bring a paper copy of your paper for a limited
review during office hours on Fridays.
2
SOME HINTS ON PAPER WRITING
Writing is a way of communicating. It is not just about “expressing” ideas — a term that implies
the release of energies without any regard to their reception. Good writing leads the reader
through the points an author wants to make. Writing well in this way is also valuable for
clarifying the writer’s own ideas. Sloppy ideas seldom survive the rigors of careful writing.
I. The Thesis Statement
Developing a thesis is probably the most important part of writing a paper. The thesis should
be something you are trying to convince the reader of. For most short papers, it is advisable
to state your thesis at the end of the first paragraph. Throughout the paper, it should always
be present in your mind. Your thesis dictates both the structure and the content of your
paper. Often, you cannot develop the thesis all at once before you start writing; instead, it
evolves as you write. In that case, you should reorganize and rewrite your paper around the
newly developed thesis.
In this class, a thesis statement should do two things. First, it should isolate elements or
themes in the texts you are writing about. No short paper can treat all the complexities of any
text. A good thesis statement will define the terms on which your paper confronts the text.
Think of writing as a quasi-aggressive act, in which you wrench certain elements of the text
away from its author in order to talk about them in your own way. A mere plot summary
(“what the author says”) is never a good paper (C range), and this is what results if your thesis
statement does not isolate some aspects of the primary text as the “turf” of your paper.
Second, your thesis should state how the elements it addresses are linked to a historical
context. As far as cultural criticism is concerned, this is the real payoff: to be able to use your
analysis of a text to discover something about a way of life. All papers that receive an “A” will
attempt this with some degree of success.
II. Paragraphs and Topic Sentences
Paragraph structure is the key to leading the reader through your argument with the greatest
possible clarity. Your argument will always be complex enough to require development
through several stages. Each paragraph should develop a single aspect of your argument. As a
rule of thumb, paragraphs should each contain more than two sentences, and should be less
than a full page long: shorter paragraphs need more material, or the idea should be worked
into another place; longer paragraphs should be subdivided.
Topic sentences are the most important transitional device in writing. The first sentence (topic
sentence) of each paragraph should let the reader know what point is now being advanced.
The remaining sentences in the paragraph should develop this point. The topic sentence can
subtly remind the reader of where the paper has been, as well as set out where it is going next.
Each time you begin a new paragraph, if its connection to the overall thesis or the previous
point is not obvious, use the topic sentence to explain the connection to the reader.
As an example of transitions at work, look at the topic sentences structuring the first section of
this handout:
“Developing a thesis is probably the most important act in writing a paper.”
“In this class, a thesis statement should do two things. First,”
“Second, your thesis should state how the element it isolates is linked to the historical
context.”
The first of these topic sentences introduces the subject. The paragraph it begins continues to
talk about the process of developing a thesis. The next of these sentences introduces a
structure: two objectives of a thesis statement will be explained. The beginning of the third
paragraph reminds the reader of this structure by identifying its subject as the second of two
points.
Such transitions or “signposts” help the reader to discern the coherence of an argument. In a
good paper, no point or bit of evidence seems extraneous or irrelevant, because how it fits into
the larger picture has been made clear through good topic sentences and careful paragraph
structure.
IMPORTANT WRITING TIPS
1. Know your main idea. Always have it in mind. Every essay and each paragraph needs a
chosen direction. If at any time there is no point that you’re trying urgently to communicate,
you’re off track: you need to clarify what you’re trying to say.
2. Make strong transitions. Present your written ideas in a logical, continuous order. Where
necessary, indicate the relationships between different parts of your paper with transitional
signals. Be wary of transitions that are nothing more than additions (“and,” “in addition,”
“then”); these show that a paper is a mere list rather than an argument.
3. Write for a reader. Remember that your writing is for someone else to read. Try to write as
if you were saying something to that person. Never use big words when small words will do.
4. Proofread carefully. Whenever you are in doubt about spelling, check the dictionary.
Always read your work through for typographical and punctuation errors. If you write on a
word processor, always read over your hard copy before you turn it in.

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